The Secret to a Healthy Weight: There is No Secret

*This is an article I posted a few years ago on another blog, but, looking back, feel it is still just as relevant so I’m re-posting it here. Enjoy!*

When people ask, “What’s the secret to losing (or gaining or maintaining) weight?” I say:

There is no secret, just 3 simple steps.

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Research update: Social smoking may be just as risky as regular smoking

Think a cigarette only once in a while keeps you clear of the health risks associated with smoking? Think again. A study published in May 2017 found that people who self-identified as “social smokers” had the same level of risk for hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol as people who identified as “current smokers.” Hypertension and high cholesterol are both considered risk factors for heart disease.

The Study

Researchers surveyed 39,555 people in community settings on self-identified smoking status (current smoker, social smoker, or non-smoker), blood pressure, and total cholesterol. They found that social smokers had a significantly higher risk of having hypertension and high cholesterol than non-smokers, but not than current smokers. The researchers concluded that there was no difference in the prevalence of hypertension or high cholesterol between the social smoker and current smoker groups.


The study, although interesting, is wrought with limitations. For one, the amount of smoking was self-reported – a method of data collection that is notoriously unreliable. For example, it’s possible that people who characterized themselves as social smokers actually smoke more than they think.

Second, past smoking behavior was not noted. So social smokers could have had a history of smoking more even though they currently smoked only socially.

Third, the researchers did not control for other aspects of the participants’ lives such as diet and exercise, which, potentially, could have significantly skewed the study.

And, last, the researchers looked only at hypertension and high cholesterol, which do not by themselves mean someone has or will get heart disease.


Despite the study’s many flaws, I have no doubt that social smoking does increase the risk of health problems associated with smoking. Any time you expose yourself to harmful chemicals, there’s some risk. And social smoking should certainly be discouraged. Whether social smokers are really at as much risk as regular smokers, though, is still up for grabs in my book.

You can find the study here, and another brief summary here.

Thanks for reading!


Research update: Increased muscle strength may help protect against osteoporosis regardless of gender and ethnicity

Nearly 10 million adults in the United States have osteoporosis – a condition where the bones have deteriorated to such a point that the person is at a significantly increased risk of fracture and mortality. Experts expect this number to increase by 30% by 2030. The estimated national cost of osteoporosis-related injury and treatment in 2008 was $22 billion. Due to the widespread impact of osteoporosis, we could all benefit from reducing the occurrence of this condition.

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Meal planning made easy

If you’re anything like me, the worst part about losing/gaining weight and getting fit and healthy is meal planning. It takes time and energy to look up recipes, plan meals and grocery lists, and prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. There are websites galore that will do all or most of the work for you, but for a hefty cost. So, many of us are left to our own devices, and we all know how that usually turns out…But I’m here to show you how meal planning, while still requiring some time, can be simplified enough to fit into just about anyone’s busy life.

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Activity trackers: Worth the investment?

Nearly 50 million wearable activity tracking devices (e.g., Fitbit, Apple watch, etc.) were shipped in 2015, and that number is expected to grow to 125 million by 2019. These wearable devises were also rated as the number 1 top fitness trend in 2017 by over 1,800 health and fitness professionals. But, are these devices actually successful at motivating consumers to live healthy, active lifestyles in the long-term? In other words, at anywhere from $100 to $1000+ a pop, is wearable technology really worth the investment?

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Research update: No such thing as “healthy obese”

Along with the uptick in the “beauty at any size” mentality has arisen the concept of “healthy obesity.” I’m a huge proponent of self-love and building confidence through health and fitness. But I’m not going to sugar coat a major health epidemic or tell any one that it’s ok to be obese, and now the science supports that.

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To walk or to run, that is the question

I get this question all the time – “Do I have to run?” It’s no secret that many of us do not like, or rather loath, running. It tends to be one of those love it or hate it types of exercises. I personally enjoy running, but not enough to run a marathon or even to run every day. And according to the research, you don’t have to! That’s good news for those of us who prefer other activities to running. For example, briskly walking has the same (if not more) benefit to running when compared mile-to-mile. Continue reading “To walk or to run, that is the question”